In 2001, the number of allowable hours worked for residents was “officially” limited to no more than 80 hours per week. This caused an uproar especially with the surgeons and other historically intensive training programs. These old-schools seem to think it’s some “rite of passage” crap and that you should sleep, eat, and shit in the hospital for 120 hours per week just because they did. It’s the “I’m miserable so you’re going to be too” mentality shining through. Of course, they’d always argue that it’s the benefit of getting to see and learn more. What a load of bullshit - how much are you going to retain when you’ve been up for 36 hours or have worked 7 straight 16-hour days? Get off the horse assholes and let the new boys take the reigns.
What you may not know – and what certainly will not be disclosed – is that the ACGME created loopholes so that programs can abuse their residents by continuing to work them more than 80 hours per week. These evasions can be found in various forms, consisting of averaging hours per month and “non-patient care activities.”
One other loophole cleverly built into the system is lack of credible reporting. For instance, residents may want to report violations to the rule, but at the same time they don’t want to get their program shut down. It’s a catch-22 and they’ve got you square by the balls. I know for a fact of many residents training at my medical school that “fudge” the number of hours worked in order to comply – they’ve told me straight up. These stories can be found everywhere, and I’m willing to bet they’re occurring at your medical school at the current time. Institute electronic timesheet databases linked directly to the ACGME instead of this paper and pencil bullshit that you see at many training programs so that faking the numbers isn’t possible.
Work hour restrictions for medical students is also on the table and it’s about time. We’re paying thousands for this shit and they treat us like slaves. On top of that, they think it’s a “privilege” to just be there. Fuck that – I’m not working 80 hours per week. I’ll just fake being sick for a couple of days. You break the rules, so do I.
On a final note: If you do decide to take action, head over to HoursWatch where you can report work hour violations anonymously.
Your program will love you for it, I promise.